Drug officers from nine agencies knocked out three major methamphetamine trafficking rings, closing an eight-month investigation by raiding 23 homes and arresting 21 people, the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department reported Thursday.
Authorities on Tuesday and Wednesday raided 16 homes in Turlock, four in Modesto, one in Ceres, one in Patterson, and one in Stevinson in Merced County. They seized 100 pounds of methamphetamine, three cars, five handguns and $60,000 in cash, said deputy Royjindar Singh, a sheriff's spokesman.
"All arrests were meth-related, either manufacturing, trafficking or dealing," Singh said. "The bust stems from drug task force work. Their mission is finding the big fish."
The 21 suspects arrested are being held on an assortment of drug charges, Singh said. The meth that was being produced was being distributed in Stanislaus County, he added.
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Three suspects also are charged with child endangerment and four are on immigration holds.
Police are looking for Jesse Padilla, 21, thought to be in the Modesto area, on a drug warrant and an immigration hold; Jose Lopez, 25, in the Modesto area, on suspicion of drug sales and criminal conspiracy; Juan Navarro, 27, thought to be in the Turlock area, on suspicion of drug trafficking and an immigration hold; and Jesus Hernandez-Martinez, 27, thought to be in the Patterson area, on suspicion of drug possession.
The Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, the countywide drug task force, led the investigation. It was assisted by agents from the California Multi-Jurisdiction Methamphetamine Enforcement Team, made up of Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Tuolumne county law enforcement, and the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Traffic Area.
"In our county, they all work out of the same building," Singh said. "They communicate really well and work really well together."
Backup agencies included:
- Modesto Police Department
Bee staff writer Michael R. Shea can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2391.